Parents: What Are Triggers and 3 Reasons You Should Use Them

“Try that again please”, I said to my son after his response to me was delivered with a bit of an edge. We call that a “Trigger”. Grab a coffee and join me as I talk about this simple tool and why it’s been such an integral part of our parenting.

KWK cup

Koffee With Kelli


A Trigger is defined as “something that causes something else to happen”. It’s also the term we use meaning, “a short phrase to that delivers a message.” It’s a way for us to remind our kids what’s important to the Pritchards without having to deliver a sermon. We use this tool often with our children to help them do the right thing and prompt them without lengthy conversations and lectures.

When you hear the words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” most of us think about Jesus dying on the cross. It’s also the first line of Psalm 22. Many believe when the Jews who were watching heard this, the entire Psalm 22 was “triggered”. Psalm 22 is a prophetic Psalm about the one who had come to rescue us.

So as we teach, train, and give our kids the sermon, we come up with ways to say it in an abbreviated way. For example, after our children know how we want them to behave when they are in the care of someone else; when we leave we simply say, “Please make it easy on the person in charge.” Whether it is an older sibling, a grandparent or a real babysitter, we expect the same when we leave. We don’t go thru the list or lecture them, we just use the trigger.

Triggers help to quickly right behavior and keep all involved from getting exasperated or frustrated with each other. They remind our children what we want.

Here are 3 reasons you should use triggers in your parenting:

1)            Triggers are a good reminder to parents to keep training our children. Triggers are useless if we have not done the training. We cannot expect kids to obey what they haven’t been taught.


2)            Triggers are effective with small children as well as teenagers. My teens appreciated being reminded in a subtle and respectful way. We didn’t have to lecture or preach, we just used the trigger.

3)            Triggers remind all of us what our family values. Another favorite of mine is, “Remember who you are.” We use it when one of our teens is leaving the house to go out. Sometimes we add, “Remember whose you are.” It helps all of us to pause and consider what our family stands for, what our core values are and what we believe about each other.

We love triggers. They help us stay connected and focused with each other. They also help us train our children by giving them a chance to quickly change behavior before they are disciplined. We feel like triggers are a great balance of truth and grace!!

You might not have called them triggers, but we’ve collected some of our best triggers from other parents. What are some “Triggers” you’ve used with your kids?


6 thoughts on “Parents: What Are Triggers and 3 Reasons You Should Use Them

  1. We have been doing this with my 3 year old (she was around 2 1/2 when we started). Most parents have probably experienced what we have. Our child will ask for something (or demand it) and she will have a negative tone or get angry. We took the opportunity to talk with her about the importance of her tone of voice. We explained that how we say something is just as important as what we say. We want her to say things or ask for things in a nice tone. We use several phrases like “say it nicely,” or “can you change your attitude?” as a trigger to help her change her behavior. Sometimes we repeat this phrase several times to give her a chance to get it right.

    • Thanks for sharing your trigger with us. If I could offer just a small caution. When we first began using the trigger… “try that again please”.. part of the reason we did it was to avoid the dog and pony show that sometimes accompanied our request. In other words, when we would ask something and they did it with a bad attitude or with a heavy sigh, then it would quickly escalate. Teaching the trigger helped to avoid all of that. However, it was easy to replace one dog and pony show with another. We found ourselves on occasion saying, “try that again please” multiple times and each time a little more tense than the last. You want don’t want to create a habit of having to use your trigger over and over again. It somewhat defeats the purpose of the trigger. Tomorrow morning I’m going to post a simple principle that can help stop that over and over again thing from happening. Thanks again for sharing your story! I hope you don’t mind the unsolicited advice.

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